Happy faces in public places!

Posted by Matt Sadler

After a period of not being able to train in public places, we have gently reintroduced our clever pups to environments such as shops and restaurants, as well as making a return to practising on public transport.

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We want our hearing dogs to be happy. Why? Because we love them!

Also, because happy dogs make for happy people. This is why we train our hearing dogs to be confident and comfortable in every aspect of their deaf partners’ lives – and why, when the pandemic meant we had to stop training in public places, our volunteers once again rallied round.

A day could involve so much. From waking up, to breakfast, to walking, maybe getting a train or a bus, then pavements, then a shop, then a break for coffee, and off again… it’s demanding enough for us humans, as well as our furry friends, with all the strange sights, smells and sounds involved. But this is the full, rewarding life their deaf partners might want to lead, so we must prepare our dogs so they feel comfortable in all these situations.

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This is why it’s as important for our dogs to be as content walking nicely on their leads as they are settling in a café, going on public transport, or just watching life go by (and getting tasty treats while doing so). It’s better for the dog, who thinks life’s a lovely game! It’s better for their deaf partner, who can visit places confident that their well-behaved companion will be no bother to anyone. It’s the basis on which our deaf partners reconnect with the world around them.

Nothing is impossible

Lockdowns and social distancing rules made this kind of training, quite simply, impossible. But our fabulous volunteers had other ideas! Once more, they worked closely with our trainers and came to the rescue with lots of innovations.

Some volunteers created ‘restaurants’ in their homes. No more TV dinners: a proper sit-down meal at the dining table, with the stereo playing a soundtrack of ambient conversation, and you have a perfect substitute to encourage your hearing dog trainee to settle.

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Or, how about using a campervan to simulate public transport? Again, our volunteers realised that a campervan or motorhome can be like a bus or train – hop on, sit down, settle, off we go, oh look we’ve arrived, hop off again.

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Out and about again

As restrictions eased, we gently reintroduced our dogs-in-training to public places. When we say ‘gently’, again, this is so vital. We approach any new experience for a puppy with lots of care, they could be nervous of new things if introduced too quickly. This is why, in every aspect of their training, we make sure that everything is done in short, positive sessions. Eventually, they learn that new experiences, in public places such as shops and public transport, are completely normal and safe.

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It’s all just one part, but a very important part, of making sure that our pups grow up to be happy, well-adjusted dogs who will transform the lives of deaf people. 

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Thanks to the commitment and creativity of our trainers and volunteers, we continued to help our puppies through this vital stage in their training ensuring that they will love going everywhere with their deaf partners when they are living with them.

Meet the pups in our Puppy Training Scheme

These cute puppies are training to become life-changers. Sponsor them from £3 a month and follow their journey as they learn how to help a deaf person.

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About the author

blog hearing dogs

Hi everyone, I'm Matt and I look after the Charity's social media, blog and e-newsletter.

I spend a lot of my day talking about our hearing dog superstars - it's a hard life!

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